An Indian government official directed an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist, who is also a U.S. citizen, on U.S. soil, the U.S. Justice Department said, in announcing charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Nikhil Gupta, 52, worked with the Indian government employee, whose responsibilities included security and intelligence, on the plot to assassinate the New York City resident who advocated for a Sikh sovereign state in northern India.
Prosecutors did not name the Indian official or the target, although they did describe the latter as a U.S. citizen of Indian origin. U.S. officials have named him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition. He could not be reached for comment.
“The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs,” Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a statement.
The Indian official is described in the related indictment as a “Senior Field Officer” with responsibilities in “Security Management” and “Intelligence” employed by the Indian government who “directed the plot from India.”
The charges come after a senior Biden administration official last week said U.S. authorities had thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the United States and issued a warning to India over concerns the government in New Delhi was involved.